For the past two days I've done very little but read posts about the women's bodies should be made open to the public debacle. This has had me fascinated mainly in trying to figure out my own reactions. For the record, my reactions to the original post are appalled, disgusted, angry, scared, nervous, furious, and frustrated to name a few. My reactions to other peoples posts and comments range form proud, encouraged, and somewhat hopeful to a deep almost indescribably melancholy. It is that last reaction, the strongest one I've had, what ideas have brought it about, and why it's been brought about that this post is about.
First some background about me. I'm a naturally shy introverted only child with generally cool parents who both have had issues that required therapy. My parents have both made several mistkaes, but the two things they both got very right is making sure I knew that I wasn't to blame for their issues and always supporting me through my issues which I have a more than couple. Unlike a lot of people my family is definitely not the main source of my issues, strangers and so-called friends are the main source of my issues.
The other inmportant background about me is that I have a poor visual memory but a very good verbal one, am especially lousy at remembering events, and those events i do remember are usually negative. One of my earliest memories involved every kid in my neighborhood scaring me by chasing me around with fake blood including the girl I thought was my best friend when I was four or five. Then there was the time when I was walking home from school when I was six or seven and a boy threatened to punch me. I instictively put my hands over my glasses. The boy said he wouldn't hit a girl with glasses then when I relaxed a little he punched me in the stomach and ran off leaving me there.
Then there was the phone call in middle school from a girl I casually knew telling me about party she was hosting where the boys would all be wearing those pajamas with the flaps over the rear and the girls would spank the boys rears and wouldn't I like to come. Also the girl mentioned that someone I thought was a friend was there and that the friend thought I would enjoy it. I don't remember how that phonecall ended but I know my mother had to help me through my mortification and no I did not go to the party because I knew that the phonecall was just about humilating me. I don't even want to think what would have happened if I had gone over.
Or how about the time in high school a boy gave me a note describing my beauty in a very uncomfortable way and that when I complained about to authority the female vice principal said I should just take it as a compliment. I wanted to tell that by that point I've developed a very strong Let's Humilate Jennfer Radar from lots of experience. Also if anyone is wondering the reason i hate being called Jenny is that my nickname in middle schoold was "Jenny Germs".
Experiences like those left me low self-esteem, difficulty socializing and trust issues where people outside my family were concerned. Even when we joined a church that had a lot of people my age who were friendly with me and treated me like a person, such as surprising me for ice cream on my birthday one year, I could never trust enough to let them past my barriers. Plus none of them went to the schools I did. Though I will say that those kids are one of the three main reasonsI'm not as messed up as I could be, along with my parents' support, and the weekly counseling sessions I had through all of my teen years.
I'm now thirty-one years old and in the fourteen years since I graduated high school I've worked very hard on my self-seteem and my trust issues with other people. It hasn't been easy and there have been stumbles along the way, but I've managed to gain some friendly acquantainces in fandom, my Guild Wars alliance, the job I'd had for seven years, and my church group, even some people I can honestly call friends. My first reaction in social situations is no longer how am I going to get humilated this time, but there are some nice people that I would like to talk to. How much talking I do varies on how strong my am I going to come across as stupid fear is at the time. That's one of the current things I'm working on.
However, even with all the work I've done, there is no way a stranger, male or female, asking if they can touch my breast is not going to set off my Let's Humilate Jennifer Radar. Which is why reading comments form people saying things like why the big kefluffle, or there are more importanat things to get worked up over, or it's just asking makes me so indescribably melancholy.
Then there is my personal favorite from women who say that peer-pressure is overrated and any woman who has such low self-esteem that they can't say no to someone asking to touch her breast deserves to feel uncomfortable. First off peer-pressure isn't overrated it's underrated. The biggest reason I never gave into peer-pressure is because of my parents' support, especially when they talked about their chidhoods when they did give into peer-pressure particularly from my mother, but not every woman was lucky as I was in that regard. Second saying no or giving into peer-pressure aren't the only responses possible. If a stranger asked to touch my breast my response would most likely me to burst into turns while standing mute and feeling completely humilated. Third while there are people who not only deserve to feel uncomfortable but damn well should feel uncomfortable, such as say walking up to woman and asking to touch her breast when they have no clue how she would react, a woman woman having difficulty saying no to having her breast touch is not one of those people.
My mother is a recovering alcoholic and nothing is more important to her than her sobriety and she will do nothing that will put it at risk. If you replace sobriety with self-esteem you get why this situation matters so much to me.
Nothing is more important to me than my self-sesteem.
I will be more than willing to help you with your self-sesteem, but not at the risk of mine.
Just because you may possibly have higher self-esteem than I do, does not mean that your self-esteem is more important than mine.
Just because something helps you with your self-esteem does not mean it will help me with mine.